Suggestions for Fighting Fairly
Posted June 24, 2008on:
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- Recognize that conflict is inevitable in meaningful relationships. Conflict can provoke eustress (good) or distress. We decide which…
- Fighting and loving are not mutually exclusive. The opposite of love is not hate; it is indifference. True lovers are fair fighters. I am capable of hating your behaviors and loving you at the same time.
- Mental game playing is not fair fighting. Mind reading, sarcasm, the silent treatment, and passive aggressive moves are neither fair nor effective. Consider the long-term effects of short-term satisfactions. If you’re in a relationship for the long term, it’s important to consider the ramifications of your behaviors beyond the moment.
- When making your argument, focus upon the present issue at hand. If you failed to fight about it three months ago, let it go. Kitchen-sinking and gunny-sacking are ugly and destructive.
- It takes courage and consideration to fight well. Avoid stonewalling. Courageous fighters are not afraid to apologize. Considerate fighters are honorable, graceful, and empathic.
- Communication is not a panacea. More talking doesn’t necessarily make things better. Sometimes it’s better to pray/journal/exercise your thoughts and feelings to clarify them, to put them into perspective, or to recognize the futility of going to the mat on this one. Consider carefully when, where, and how to share your frustrations and irritations.
- Fight only if things will improve. We are vulnerable in relationships: belittling, abusing, or destroying others is both irresponsible and unethical.
- Take responsibility for your feelings and actions. Others cannot make you angry, happy, or crazy. Rather than, “You’re wrong,” try, “I disagree.” Rather than, “You hurt me,” consider, “I’m surprised that you said that to me. I don’t think that that’s true.”
- To every thing, there is a time. Criticism needs to be constructive. Allow your partner/colleague/ friend to save face. Fight in private and allow time to get issues out on the table. Don’t bring other friends and family members in to mediate.
- Compromise, capitulation, and competition only manage a conflict. Collaboration resolves it.
- Sometimes things are bigger than we are. While we may feel foolish, embarrassed and vulnerable, professional counselors, competent ministers, and a Higher Power can do wonders for helping us recognize new ways of looking at seemingly unmanageable problems.
- When you’re wrong, apologize and mean it. When accepting your partner’s apology, do so with grace and dignity.